Flip Your Role: Become the Teacher

August 22, 2018 by Ashlee Hunter Ashlee Hunter

To do well on the IELTS, you need to understand the exam as well as the information that could be within the different sections. One of the best ways to know if you understand something is to try and teach it to someone else. Becoming the “teacher” will allow you to display all the knowledge you have on that topic.

So, should you abandon all your studies and go to university to become a teacher? Of course not. However, you should practice some techniques that teachers use in order to fully understand a topic. Here, your topic is the IELTS.

teacher in front of a classroom

Always paraphrase
You need to be able to say or at least think about something, in your own words. On the IELTS, questions and passages will be written in a more formal way. You need to be able to read a question, sentence, paragraph, or whole passage, and put it into your own words. This shows that you understand what you're reading. From this understanding, you're more likely to be able to answer questions about the information. You'll need this specific skill when trying to understand passages in the reading section as well as when you're writing both tasks in the writing section. This will also benefit you in your Speaking module.

Always think about things in simple terms
When paraphrasing, think about how you would tell this information to a student who isn't at the same English level as you. Often times, thinking about a question or passage in simpler terms can make it easier to understand. When you can think about an idea in a simpler way, you're able to explain it back, through your writing and speaking, in a clearer way.

Paraphrasing requires you to have a range of vocabulary. You should always be trying to build your vocabulary by reading, listening to different types of audio, as well as studying resources such as Academic Word Lists.

Always give specific details and examples
When given a topic, you should always be thinking about how to relate it to a specific example or how to explain specific details using examples. Again, this will help you understand the topic as well as explain it clearly, especially in your writing. For Task 2, you can use these examples and specific details in the body paragraphs of your essay. This will also help you speak for a longer time during your speaking exam and make your ideas more relatable.

Always ask comprehension questions
Once a teacher has taught a lesson, they usually ask comprehension questions to make sure the students understand what they've just learnt. This is a crucial skill in the IELTS even though you are just asking yourself instead of other students. Asking yourself comprehension questions could be beneficial during different sections of the exam. Once you have finished a reading passage, you should ask yourself questions to make sure you understand it. You can also concept check your ideas to make sure your answers make sense. Finally, you should also ask yourself if your writing is clear once you have written both tasks.

Always be able to think on the spot
Always have a backup plan in case you run into a problem on the IELTS. For example, vocabulary can be an issue in all sections of the exam. If you don't know the word, try to think of similar words or that same word in different forms.

Example: I don’t know the word ‘prohibition’. I’ve heard the phrase ‘Smoking is prohibited.’ Prohibited means not allowed. The spelling is very similar and the phonetics are almost the same. I think ‘prohibition’ means not allowed to do something.

If you have no idea what a certain word means but it is crucial for understanding the question, at least take a guess. Do not leave any answer blank because there is a chance that you may have the correct answer, even though you may not feel confident about it.

Books and pencil on desk in classroom

Feeling confident during the IELTS exam can sometimes be a struggle, but practicing these skills beforehand can make you feel more comfortable when doing each section of the exam.



Ashlee Hunter

Ashlee has been involved in the ESL world for over ten years and has now planted her roots in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Nothing gives her more pleasure than watching students and candidates reach their language and IELTS goals.

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